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Wednesday, 24 November 1965

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade and Industry) - I am not aware of the position with relation to gunmetal, but I think this problem must have a basic relationship to the prices for copper and scrap copper. The position is that world prices for copper have risen very sharply over recent months, but Australian copper producers have been obtaining for virgin copper sold in Australia prices very much lower than those which can be obtained on the world export market. Australian copper producers are selling virgin copper at £395 a ton at a time when the London Metal Exchange price for copper ranges from £650 to £700 a ton. This has led to the situation where the value of scrap copper in Australia is very much higher than the value of unused copper. The domestic price for No. 1 scrap copper today is £470 a ton compared with the virgin copper price of £395 a ton. Clearly there is an outflow of scrap copper from Australia. It would be a highly profitable business to buy virgin copper, do something to convert it to scrap and resell it. The Government, which is reluctant always to interfere with the normal flow of private commerce, must, I think, in the circumstances have a prompt look at this situation in relation to the problems that have been created.

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